Initial information for informants

The following section attempts to provide preliminary information to informants by answering some frequently asked questions. If you have additional questions, please arrange for a confidential meeting with me personally.

Who can contact the ombudsperson?

Any person wishing to provide evidence of suspicion of corruption or other crimes related to it in a company represented by Dr. Buchert or Dr. Jacob:
List of all mandates

This applies to employees of these companies as well as to business partners or third parties. Persons whose own conduct has not been above board or who may even have made themselves liable to prosecution can also approach the ombudsperson confidentially.

The ombudsperson is not, however, a general complaints office or suggestion box. Persons who feel they have been treated improperly or unjustly should contact the appropriate offices within the company, such as the duly authorized agent for mobbing cases or the works council/staff council.

Can I be sure that my name will not be disclosed when I contact the ombudsperson?

It is one of the primary responsibilities of the ombudsperson to treat information on the suspicion of corruption with strict confidentiality and to protect the informant. This occurs within the attorney’s legal obligation to maintain secrecy and on the basis of additional contractual regulations. Even the initial contact with the ombudsperson enjoys legal protection. The identity of the informant will therefore not be disclosed, unless the informant explicitly so wishes and agrees to it in writing. The ombudsperson’s legal obligation to maintain secrecy applies not only to the company but also to the police and the district attorney, should the information lead to criminal proceedings.

Do I need evidence if I want to report a suspicion? And can I expect consequences if my suspicions are not confirmed?

No, evidence of wilful misconduct is rarely available. All that is required is a reasonable suspicion based on factual evidence, a so-called initial suspicion.

If this suspicion is not confirmed, a whistleblower does not have to fear any disadvantages if they have provided the information to the best of their knowledge and belief.

However, anyone who deliberately provides false information to the ombudsman or ombudswoman and causes damage as a result may be held liable and prosecuted.

Are all reports now subject to the Whistleblower Protection Act?

No, the Whistleblower Protection Act only covers reports of suspected criminal offences and certain administrative offences, as well as enumerated legal violations. For example, the Whistleblower Protection Act does not cover offences against internal company regulations. The Act also does not extend to all persons. We would be happy to advise you on any related questions.

Who bears the costs if I provide the ombudsperson with information?

The company to which the information refers bears the costs. However, persons who willfully give false information that leads to damages may be subject to criminal prosecution.

Can I contact the ombudsperson anonymously?

Yes, but this “caution” is without cause since the ombudsperson, as an attorney, has a legal obligation to maintain secrecy. Dr. Buchert or Dr. Jacob will also talk to you if you initially wish not to divulge your name. It should nevertheless be pointed out that companies will only very reluctantly pursue anonymous accusations – or not at all – unless the accusations are well founded. In addition, the credibility of the informant plays a crucial role. This credibility can only be assessed adequately if the informant has met with the ombudsperson personally.

Does a contact constitute an attorney-client relationship between an informant and the ombudsperson?

No, the ombudsman does not become your lawyer, but remains instead the attorney of the company that retained him. However, the contract between the ombudsman and the company also includes protective consequences for you as informant. Thus the ombudsman counsels you on all matters concerning the information you provide. Beyond that – e.g. in connection with labour laws – he cannot act as your attorney.